TUNBRIDGE WELLS emerged with a hard-fought win away at their old rivals Dover in London One South.
After some initial Wells possession, the hosts opened the scoring on four minutes with a fine long-range penalty. Thereafter, Wells gained a foothold in the Dover half, with their scrum having the edge and the line-out functioning superbly.
After a fine Nick Doherty break on 25 minutes, Wells landed a penalty and Dover were reduced to 14 men when one of their centres was sent to the sin bin.
The penalty was kicked to the corner, and a perfect rolling maul saw Nicholls control the drive before hooker Jake Thompson took the ball to touch down for the try. Frank Reynolds converted to make it 3-7.
The one-man advantage did not last for long, though, as on 30 minutes Wells lost Hayden Pengelly to a yellow card for killing the ball, and with Dover slotting the ensuing penalty the score was back to 6-7.
Wells flanker Charlie Dagwell then showed great strength to force his way over for a score. With Reynolds converting, the visitors went into half-time with the lead standing at 6-14.
The boys from St Mark’s started the second half in the ascendancy, with a series of set scrums instead of penalties.
On 49 minutes, a powerful push-over try was recorded by Mike Hathaway. Reynolds was in fine kicking form and made the score 6-21.
Tom George now replaced Webb on the wing and made an immediate impact. A powerful 25-metre break by Doherty took Wells deep into the Dover 22 before a clever inside pass found George, who crashed over near the posts to score with his first touch.
Dover responded and launched a powerful counter-attack just ten metres from their own line, crossing for a deserved try on 56 minutes to make it 11-28.
Dover’s defence remained resolute, and on 67 minutes they breached Wells’ defence again for a well-taken team try to set visiting support nerves jangling. However, the game was beyond Dover’s grasp.
Despite the win, Wells coach Matt Cook believed the team’s performance had been far from polished.
He said: “We have had some selection issues which meant that the past week has been far from smooth – the only good thing was the result. This was a really lethargic display from the team, which was quite annoying.
“We are about to start a run of three games which may determine where we finish in the league. If we play like we did against Dover, then there’s no way that we can win against the likes of Sevenoaks.”